WASHINGTON and DES MOINES, Iowa – Memorial Day marked the unofficial start to grilling season ’14, but this year, expect to pay more for just about anything you can stick on a grill.
“Pretty much whatever choice you make,” says USDA Economist Ricky Volpe, “[in] the summer of 2014, you’re going to pay more.”
According to USDA, beef prices are up 8 percent year-over-year, when last year prices were already setting records. Switch over to pork and it’s the same story; a 6 percent increase in retail prices. Budding grillmasters may try to head off the high prices by moving to chicken, but prices there are 3 percent higher than last year. Even fish is more expensive: 6 percent more expensive than last year.
And with grilling season taking that bigger bite out of your wallet, you’ll want to avoid several common grilling mistakes. Marianne Gravely with USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline says the number one mistake is cross-contamination.
“If you are carrying a plate of raw chicken or raw hamburgers to the grill,” Gravely illustrates, “then you cook whatever it is you’re cooking, and then, if you were to put that back on the same plate that held the raw food, you could contaminate the cooked food with bacteria from the raw food.”
She recommends a quick fix: using two separate plates to avoid the issue altogether. Gravely also adds that, because bacteria which could make you sick thrive at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees, it’s good idea to put food away after it’s been sitting out for two hours at room temperature. If the temperature is closer to 90 degrees, she says to pack it up after just one hour.